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David D. Levine
27 March 2005 @ 10:51 pm
Editing hours: 32.7 | Since last entry: 5.0 | Percent complete: 58%

Looks like I'm going to come closer to 50 editing hours this month than I'd thought I would!

Started the day with the annual 43rd Avenue Easter Egg Hunt and Brunch. This was the first time in about four years we were able to attend, because we weren't at Minicon, Norwescon, or Eastercon. The weather was cold and rainy, so instead of setting up card tables on the sidewalk as usual we all crowded into someone's house on the corner. Much discussion of kitchen remodels and the other joys of an eighty-five-year-old house.

I love my neighborhood and my neighbors. The conversations at the party were all about where to find ecologically friendly construction materials, and how great hybrid cars are, and how nice it is to live in a part of the country where people are willing to tax themselves for the sake of the schools. We even met a couple of neighbors we hadn't met before who are science fiction readers, and we might be starting up a neighborhood reading group.

In the afternoon and evening I buckled down to editing, with a new strategy and a new attitude.

The new strategy: I looked through my to-do list for the next few chapters, found items that I thought really needed to be addressed, and looked for places to address them. This was much more productive than going through each chapter in order, trying to keep an eye out for places to trim, places to add emotion, places to add description, and other to-do items all at once (which very easily shifted from "scanning for possible edits" to "reading my own deathless prose").

I made a lot of small changes and trims (though the overall word count is back up over 123,000): setting up things that come later, increasing the amount of emotion on the page, making the protagonists more active and less whiny, folding together sentences that say the same thing in different ways.

The new attitude: the changes I am making now are tweaks. Nothing I am doing now, I think, is going to make the difference for an editor or agent in deciding whether or not to buy/represent this novel. Either it's fundamentally salable for that particular editor/agent (in which case there may be additional edits anyway, sigh) or it is not (in which case no amount of tweaking will make a difference). I do want it to be the best it can be, but really I know that at this point I am simply not going to make any structural changes. So, for example, Jason's going to continue to be an "insular tech-head." That's not the characterization I would have hoped for, but I think that it may be the best I can do with this character, in this novel, at this stage of my career.

I need to keep in mind that I am not going to make every reader fall all over me with praise. Yes, my critters have found problems. That's what critters are for. Yes, it might not sell. That's a hazard of first novels. But I'm going to get the damn thing in the mail, at least. And soon.

More tomorrow.